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More on Perry’s school strategy

Here’s an interesting perspective on why Governor Perry proposed the school finance reform solution that he did.

The 134 school districts that lose money under the Robin Hood school finance system serve 12 percent of the state’s students. Voters in these districts cast 17.5 percent of the 2002 GOP primary vote, according to Texas Legislative Council records. But Campaigns for People found 27 percent of all campaign contributions made in 2002 came from people living in these districts.

Perry’s staff crafted a school finance plan designed to appeal to Houston Republicans who want to cap property tax appraisals and to Dallas Republicans who want to eliminate the share-the-wealth Robin Hood school finance system. To pay for it, they avoided across-the-board tax increases, instead focusing on “sin” taxes and expansion of gambling to video lottery terminals at horse racing tracks.

Perry’s aides then did polling to make certain his plan would be popularly received even if not legislatively viable.

“I’m sure he will say it’s the best plan available, but a lot of people have speculated that it’s because he’s worried about somebody running against him,” said Mike Boone, a prominent Republican lawyer from Dallas who is pushing for a broad business tax to replace the current school finance system. “He can claim he had a plan and if it failed, it failed, but at least he took action.”

I’m not sure what to make of that. I don’t expect an actual Perry person to confirm that this was their plan, but I’d like to see a quote from more than one person, especially someone who already disagrees with Perry’s plan, before I accept this as conventional wisdom.

I’m also not sure how good a strategy this would be even if it’s true. 17.5% is a decent sized bloc, but it’s nowhere near a majority. Surely Perry sees his base as being a bit larger than the Houston and Dallas suburbs, right? I know primaries are decided by a small slice of the electorate, but betting one’s reelection on one-sixth of those who voted last time seems awfully risky to me.

Finally, even if he is just hoping to get credit for trying, what happens if Craddick and Dewhurst team up to pass sweeping legislation that caps property taxes but also expands and increases the sales tax while overhauling the useless corporate franchise tax? Does Perry have the sand to veto such a bill and piss most people off, or does he turn his back on that 17.5%, who might reasonably have expected him to push his poll-tested plan a bit harder? Actually, if this did happen he’d probably point at the property tax cap and declare victory anyway. Whether he’d be allowed to claim credit or not is another question.

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3 Comments

  1. kevin whited says:

    Pointing at appraisal-creep relief and proclaiming victory is exactly what he’ll do. If you go back and look at various reported quotes carefully, he’s made a point of saying that his plan to raise offsetting revenue is open for discussion. He thinks he’s covered his rear on that (whether he has will be determined by voters).

    Nice that the Comical is catching on. Now if they just go get a quote from Bettencourt on why appraisal creep relief is going to be a winner, they’ll almost have a complete story. Silly News24 will have scooped ’em on the Bettencourt quotes, but it’s the Comical. What else is to be expected?

    Since I’m pretty sure Rick Casey reads your blog — PSST, Hotshot, why not finish up this story and present it as your own? Most of the real work is done. Heck, you can even pull key Bettencourt quotes from his powerpoint if you’re really lazy (and we suspect you are).

    Until today, appraisal creep relief wasn’t even on the Comical’s radar as something that was going on. Some blogs have already had that discussion a while ago, and it sure wasn’t the Comical’s MeMo blog. 🙂

  2. Charles M says:

    I suspect the 22% number you mentioned was more to the point.

    Besides. Wait a year or two and we’ll be able to find out how fast HCAD can adjust apraisals downward. The housing bubble is going to burst.

  3. Best Name For A Policy Proposal, Ever

    The Texas Lege is up to no good, which is to say it’s in session. The subject: School Finance “Reform”. Which almost certainly means less money for schools. Kuff has the best coverage, as ususal, but Max has the best…